PITTSFIELD — COVID-19 hit the Berkshires more than two years ago, but it continues to shut down local businesses.
The latest victim is Allen Heights Veterinary Hospital on Dalton Avenue, one of the city’s oldest clinics, which closes on July 1. Veterinarian Elizabeth Tullett said she had struggled to find the workers she needed to stay open.
“Basically, it’s work,” said Tullett, owner of Allen Heights with her husband, Brian Caraker, since June 2007. “We lost four of our key employees who had been with us for at least eight years. .. and after four or five hires, only one person remained with us.
“We lost a woman who worked for two weeks and quit,” she said. Employees who left have found jobs that are better paid or more to their liking.
“It was part of the Great Resignation,” Tullett said.
Allen Heights had seven employees before the pandemic and now has three. Caraker helped.
“We have people applying,” for the positions of those who had left, Tullett said. “They just had no skills.”
Allen Heights has been closed on Tuesdays for over a year. Tullett said staffing shortfalls recently caused it to close for the second time on a Saturday. “If I don’t have enough technicians and staff, I just can’t do everything,” she says.
Tullett tried to sell the business instead of closing it. She said four entities were interested, but the only serious offer fell through.
In a statement posted on Allen Height’s website and sent to customers, Tullett and Caraker said they were closing “with deep sadness and a fair amount of frustration.”
“The economic and labor forces brought on by the pandemic and the ‘Great Resignation’ have pushed this business to breaking point,” they wrote. “We tried to hire and worked with a broker to try to sell/merge practices, but nothing worked out.”
“When we are consistently understaffed, we cannot provide the surgical appointments and services that make us a vital practice. This is why we are closing the hospital,” they wrote.
Allen Heights is operating on a modified schedule this month and will not be performing any surgical or dental procedures during the last two weeks of June. Tullett and Caraker will continue to respond to communications after July 1 for “some time,” they wrote, “but it may not be daily.”
Customers are asked to contact Allen Heights by texting 413-443-4949 or emailing [email protected]
Urgent care is triaged by phone to see if a visit is needed. Owners who have pets on chronic or lifetime prescriptions are asked to call Allen Heights by June 25 so that refills can be ordered. Allen Heights is in the process of emailing copies of pet records to their owners, a practice that will continue through July. Those needing records sooner are asked to contact Allen Heights.
Tullett and Caraker are the fourth owners of Allen Heights, which Tullett says was founded in the early 1940s. Allen Heights was the original name for a post-World War II housing estate in the Allendale neighborhood of the city, according to Eagle’s files.
The couple thanked customers for their support. “Over the years we have made friends, shared lots of animal stories, laughter and tears,” they wrote. “We will all miss seeing your pets in the hospital and talking to you.”